About three weeks ago Michael Vick made a grave error when speaking to the assembled media in Philadelphia. He didn’t insult a teammate or a coach, and he didn’t criticize the team’s offense. He didn’t say something awful about a teammate’s wife publicly (yes, that’s happened), and he didn’t engage in the sacred ritual of June smack talk while supplying an opponent with something to put on a bulletin board.
Hell, he didn’t even say the words “dream team”. His mistake was being honest and open.
The man paid too, with far too many inches in newspaper columns dedicated to the pursuit of trying to decipher what he meant with his scathing words, and how the state of the universe was altered. To refresh, here are the words in question. First this…
“It’s tough. I have to continue to be a professional and put my feelings and emotions to the side, and just continue to compete. But it’s hard. I would be lying if I said it wasn’t, but that’s just what I have to deal with, and I’m going to keep dealing with it until I see otherwise.”
But mostly this…
“Hopefully, Chip makes a decision before training camp and we won’t have to answer questions. So we can go out there as quarterbacks and just focus on this season and not answer questions about competition every day.”
Those comments led to an interesting little adventure which showcased the deepest flaw with both how the NFL is covered, and the sort of comments that fans indirectly ask the media to pursue during beat guy-player exchanges.
I already ranted at length on that, so I won’t invest much more time here. In short, though, Vick’s comments above and other similar comments which arise almost weekly around NFL locker rooms demonstrate that we — the football-watching public, and by extension then, the media and beat writers with daily access — deeply desire both entertaining quotes and narratives, but also to fight back against any comment which is different (or honest), and therefore inherently entertaining. It can be a dizzying and odd cycle.
Today when he made an appearance at Jeremy Maclin’s football camp, Vick was asked to reflect on his comments again. We can now confirm his unthinkable crime: he was answering a question.
From Sheil Kapadia:
“I was very surprised because I didn’t try to say it in a derogatory way where I felt like Coach should make a decision or there’s pressure on him to make a decision. I was just asked a question, and I answered it the best way that I could. But Coach is totally involved in our team and what we’ve got going on and what needs to be done. Like I said, we’re all going to sit back and make sure that we do exactly what he asks us to do, regardless of who’s out there on the field.”
There, it looks like he’s learned his lesson. Never say something interesting.